Leaux Trikes came to the Shark Tank on December 4 with their three-wheeled trikes that have spinning capability. Heavy interviewed founder and inventor Tyler Hadzicki, who built the first prototype with his engineer father, Joe. They successfully funded the project on Kickstarter and have already sold 400 units. Hadzicki, who calls the bike a “showstopper,” said this about his early success, “I want to thank everyone who purchases a trike for supporting a small business and, really, being part of my American dream. I can say that this dream is alive and well and available to more people than ever. There’s nothing cooler than that.”
The Moment the Idea Came About
It all started out as a weekend build project with my dad. We wanted to build something that combined the speed of a bike with the control of a vehicle that uses caster wheels. We built an initial prototype but unfortunately the performance wasn’t that great; the rear caster wheels would always wander uncontrollably. Then one day by accident, I reached back, grabbed the back caster wheel and began steering it manually. It was at that moment that we knew we had something special. The control that comes from steering both the front and the back wheels at the same time is unlike anything else. It allows for very tight precise control as well as spins and drifts. It’s the closest experience you can have to driving a race car for a thousandth of the price. Three patents, a crowd funding campaign, and an episode of Shark Tank later and here we are.
The Spinning Feature
The rear caster wheels are tilted in a way that they follow each other’s movements. By steering the rear handle, the rider essentially controls the direction of the back wheels. With the handle you cannot only control the turning of the trike, but if spun all the way around, it will actually send the trike into a super-fast 360-degree spin. Definitely everybody’s favorite. It takes a little to get used to steering the back wheels instead of using the handle bars, but after a few minutes it becomes to feel second nature. It’s really intuitive.
Balancing School With Running a Business
Running the trikes while balancing the demands of school has always been one of the biggest challenges. I remember my senior year of high school being especially stressful because I was managing the production of Kickstarter trike orders while at the same time keeping my grades up and applying to college. It was always the constant battle of wanting to work on the project I was truly passionate about and the need to do well in school. There were definitely nights where I worked all afternoon on trikes only to start studying at midnight for a big test the next day. Somehow (not exactly sure how) I managed, and perhaps my proudest achievement through this whole experience was keeping straight A’s through high school and getting a full ride scholarship to San Diego State University where I currently attend college. Both school and my small business are very important to me and it’s my passion for both that has kept me going. At the end of the day I’m going to make sure I am successful so I work hard to keep all my options open.
The Kickstarter Experience
Kickstarter, and the whole crowdfunding movement in general, is incredible. As a 17 year old high school student I was able to post a short video explaining my idea to complete strangers and well over a hundred of them pledged their support (almost $50,000 worth!). To me that is simply mind blowing! The amount of trust the amazing backers put in creators makes it possible to take ideas from concept to reality almost instantly. It makes funding and customers accessible to anyone with an idea and a computer which would have been impossible even a few years ago. Without Kickstarter to kick start my product (pun intended) I don’t know how I would have approached this. I owe Kickstarter and the backers there so much for my success with this product.
His Ambitious Future Plans
I’ve already got version 2.0 in the works. Bigger and better is going to be the theme for that trike. I hope to release it in another Kickstarter in about 6 months. I’m also looking to manage a Kickstarter for my dad as well, which should be really cool. I can’t say much about it but we’re looking to do a really unique art and design collaboration. As for the distant future I have no idea what I want to do. I’m studying engineering, but I’m interested in so many things that it could go any direction. I just want to bring passion and energy to whatever I do because that’s how the best things are made. But at this point in my life I can say that I am truly blessed with the opportunities and support I have received. I have nothing but gratitude for the riders who have supported me on this adventure and enjoy what I make!